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Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Campus

Students react to suspenseful Election Night


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Members of the College Republicans at UH gathered at Calhoun’s Rooftop Bar and Grill to watch the Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump, accumulate votes from the Electoral College and general public throughout Tuesday night. | Julie Araica/The Cougar

From too early to call to too close to call, Tuesday night left everyone who has been following the most divisive and polarizing U.S. presidential election in modern history on the edge of their seats.

Despite widespread expectations that Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton would take the Electoral College by a landslide, Republican nominee Donald Trump secured votes from several key states including Ohio, Florida and North Carolina, en route to capturing the 2016 Presidential Election. 

“Honestly, Obama could do another one. If he’d agree to stay, I’d be OK with amending the constitution,” said philosophy senior James Hill from a watch party on campus. “He can be the new FDR. I’m OK with that.”  

Laleen Bajwa, a finance senior and Pakistani immigrant, considers herself 100 percent American. While attending an election results watch party hosted by the Department of Political Science at M.D. Anderson Library, Bajwa’s enthusiasm for Election Day was palpable.

“I don’t think you guys realize it — this is my Super Bowl,” Bajwa said. “I love politics.”

Texas State Representative Carol Alvarado, who represents District 145, stopped by the watch party, at the Rockwell Pavilion room, to extol students there for voting and being engaged in politics.

“I think we have seen a record number of your generation coming out to vote, and I’m so happy,” said Alvarado, a Democrat who’s been in the Texas House of Representatives since 2008. “I think it’s great that you are leading a movement, you are a voice in this election, and I know that many of us that are in elected office look to you to give us guidance on the issues that you care about.”

At Axelrad Beer Garden’s election watch party, supporters of Clinton and the Democratic Party let no small victory go uncelebrated. In spite of Clinton’s dwindling chances, the victories of Harris County down-ballot progressives were particularly well-received.

“Regardless of what the outcome is,” UH alum Robyn Douglas said, “I think we should be proud of the fact that we all rallied together.”

Students gathered at Lynn Eusan Park for “Color Me Houston,” a Homecoming event where live election updates from CNN were played while Coog Radio DJs blasted music from the stage.

Most students attending said they voted for Clinton, regardless of whether they identified as Democrats or Republicans. Early in the night, many students felt Clinton would still win despite Trump’s lead in states like Florida.

“I think Hillary Clinton is going to win,” said biology sophomore Jonathan Gomez. “It’s going to be close, but with the media on her side and celebrities backing her up. The biggest thing is that she just needs people to go out and actually vote for her.”

At 7:30 p.m., a CNN live election update revealed a 1 percent lead by Clinton in Texas. Only the victories of Harris County’s Kim Ogg and Ed Gonzales received louder applause from the crowd.

“I’m flabbergasted,” said Coleton Mayo, a UH Law Center student and director of membership for Houston Stonewall Young Democrats. “I didn’t expect that.”

In the early stages of College Republicans’ event at Calhoun’s Rooftop Bar and Grill, finance junior Antonio Cruz said that after the election many people would experience a political hangover.

“The entire thing is a coin toss,” Cruz, a Republican, said. “All I know is that a lot of people are not gonna know what to do after today. This whole election has been like a rollercoaster, and not that many people know how to get off a rollercoaster. Tomorrow will be a very brand new day.”

The watch party was attended by students, primarily Republican, and Matt Murphy, the Republican candidate who is running for the Texas House of Representatives for District 147.

Many Republicans were surprised by how close Trump and Clinton came in Texas at one point and said it could be attributed to the growing Hispanic population in the historically Republican-voting state.

Accounting senior and and College Republican member, Julie Le, believe that this was a problem with the Republican candidate.

“Trump is a very polarizing candidate,” Le said. “A lot of conservatives feel as though Trump doesn’t accurately represent them, so a lot of conservatives have decided to for third party.”

Hours before Florida was called for Trump, students were already reacting from the watch party at the Rockwell Pavilion in the M.D. Anderson Library.

“Florida just flipped to Trump, and I feel like I’m gonna throw up,” philosophy senior James Hill said. “It looks like he’s gonna grab Florida.”

Just as it did in the 2012 election, Harris County turned blue. Heena Kepadia, a student at the University of Houston Law Center, said this could likely be attributed to a potentially large percentage of straight-ticket voters in favor of Clinton.

“It just is a testament to the turnout of this election,” Kepadia said. “I think it means there was great early turnout in Harris County.”

As a Homecoming rave-turned-watch part unfolded at Lynn Eusan Park, students on both sides of the political spectrum expressed surprise.

Political science freshman Irina Alejandro, watching the results come in from Lynn Eusan Park, said that living in Harris County made her feel at ease about the election.

“I feel like big cities are always blue,” Alejandro said. “Being in Houston and being surrounded by people that think the same as me is relaxing.”

Regardless of the presidential election results, none at Axelrad were ready to give up on the Democratic movement.

“Ultimately, I feel there’s always going to be work to be done,” said Reyes Ramirez, a UH alum and advocate within the community. “Tonight’s just going to decide how hard I’m going to have to work.”

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